fresh voices from the front lines of change







This week saw the end of both Ted Cruz’s and John Kasich’s presidential campaigns, as well as the death of modern conservatism — killed off by a guy who bears more than a passing resemblance to an Oompa Loompa.

Well, he did it. Whatever else can be said about Donald Trump (and that’s plenty), he certainly lived up to his name. To “trump,” according to the American Oxford Dictionary, is to “beat someone (or something) by doing or saying something better.” There’s no doubt Trump did that. He proved better at rousing the rabble than the rest of the Republican presidential field.

Donald Trump's Big Tent Party

Image via Donkey Hotey @ Flickr.

Let’s be honest. We all laughed when Trump rode the “down” escalator into history to declare his candidacy for president. Now that moment seems like a metaphor for the rapid decline of contemporary conservatism, with Trump’s ascendancy as a candidate.


We all knew, just knew, that this would be worth a few laughs. Right-wing pundits like NY Times Ross Douthat predicted again and again that would never be the nominee.

Trump polish his “brand,” boost his name recognition for another season of “Celebrity Apprentice,” and bow out before things got real. After all, Republicans had an incredibly “deep bench” for the 2016 presidential election. Out of 17 candidates, including Trump, the other 16 included four current governors (Kasich, Christie, Jindal, and Walker), five former governors (Bush, Gilmore, Huckabee, Pataki, and Perry), four sitting US senators (Cruz, Rubio, Paul, and Graham), and one former Senator (Santorum). Surely of them, most likely Jeb Bush, would rise from the pack.

No way would the GOP end up with a bankruptcy-prone reality TV star with a awful spray tan and an absurd combover as its nominee and de facto leader.

But the “deep bench” was decimated, and then there were three where there had been 17. Then came the Indiana primary. Suddenly Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) were finished. Trump was the last candidate standing, and the presumptive nominee.


Conservatives began tearing their hair and rending their garments almost immediately.


Some took their mourning and rage to Twitter. Some even threatened to vote for Clinton.

Not all were distraught. Some, including the GOP’s biggest grifters, were thrilled.


How did this happen? How did Republicans come to nominate a man who, according to a new CNN poll, is viewed unfavorably by 64 percent of women, 73 percent of nonwhites, 70 percent of voters under 35, 67 percent of college graduates, and 57 percent of moderates — constituencies with whom, four years ago, Republicans hoped to improve?


How did Republicans end up coming this close nominating a racist, sexist, xenophobic conman?


Easy. Feed your base a steady but slightly watered-down diet of racism, sexism, xenophobia, and con jobs. When a con man comes along offering them undiluted racism, sexism, and xenophobia, they’ll be primed and ready to follow him anywhere.

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